COVID-19 & the NSW Courts

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the NSW Local and District Courts have taken serious measures to reduce the spread of the virus. If you have a matter in the District or Local Court, it can be a worrying and confusing time.

Update on COVID-19 & The Courts

On 1 July 2020, The Chief Magistrate issued a new memorandum replacing all previously issued memorandums. It outlines further arrangements that will take effect on and from 3 August 2020.

Should I attend court in person?

Currently, there are a number of court appearances you are not required to attend if you are legally represented. We can advise you on an ongoing basis whether you are required to attend court.

They are now allowing people that are not involved in legal proceedings to attend court. Please note that they may not let in large groups of people. If you wish to have family or friends attend, it would be best to keep it to one or two people. If you are told that you are required to attend court, you must not attend if you:

  • have traveled and returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • have had contact with a diagnosed, suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • you are feeling unwell.

If any of the above apply to you, we can liaison with the Court to organise appropriate arrangements for your matter to proceed.

What is happening with matters?

Each Local Court will be identifying matters that were abandoned due to Covid-19. They will be listed for a Status Mention. This mention is to assess where the matters are up to and whether they are ready to proceed to a hearing. You will only need to appear in person at a Status Mention if you are self-represented or we have been unable to obtain complete instruction in your matter.

If a person wishes to plead guilty at a Status Mention, then the matter will proceed to finalise the matter that day.

When will my matter likely be listed for a hearing?

Matters that have already been listed for a defended hearing after 31 July 2020, will remain. This is due to the administrative complications that may arise by adjourning those matters. Matters that had their hearing dates abandoned during the period of 23 March and 31 July 2020, will be listed between August – October when the court’s diary will accommodate the hearing.

However, In the larger courts, there will be no defended hearing listed in October. This is to accommodate the listing of matters that occur during August – October. These Courts include:

Metropolitan Locations: Sutherland, Campbelltown, Penrith, Mt. Druitt, Blacktown, Parramatta, Hornsby, Manly, Waverley, Bankstown, Newtown, Burwood, Fairfield, Central Court, Downing Centre.

Regional locations:  Wollongong, Newcastle.

What can be dealt with via email or in writing?

Due to not being able to attend, the Courts are allowing a lot more to be dealt with via email. These include things such as:

  • Entering pleas
  • Seeking adjournments
  • Reply to briefs
  • Simple mentions

We at Fourtree Lawyers will work with you to obtain all the necessary information required to make sure that nothing is missing in the correspondence to the courts via electronic means.

What District Court matters will be adjourned?

On the 16 March 2020, any new jury trials were temporarily suspended. In mid-June, Sydney District Court (Downing Centre), Parramatta District Court and Newcastle District Court. Will recommence jury trials on a limited basis.

How will bail be determined?

From 22 June 2020, the measured put in place to have a centralised bail court will cease. Bail will revert back to being dealt with in the originating court.

How are pleas entered?

Pleas are now entered electronically or in person through the Court. Here at Fourtree Lawyers, we will liaise with the Registry and the prosecution to make sure your matter is dealt with as soon as possible. For simple matters, we may be able to have your matter dealt with when a plea is entered.

How are AVO’s being dealt with?

Where an ADVO has proceedings with a related CAN, proceedings will be adjourned to the same date as the CAN and continue to travel together as per usual practice. Where ADVO application is without a CAN, proceedings will be adjourned for mention for no less than 3 months.

However, provisional orders can still be made by the police. Amendments to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 now allow the police to provide for provisional orders to be listed up to 6 months from the date the order is made.

We are here to help

Fourtree Lawyers can explain and guide you through this confusing and unprecedented time and work with you to minimise the legal ramifications of your offence.

Instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will ensure you fully understand your position and your options and will assist you in getting the best possible results for your particular case.

Contact our Newcastle and Central Coast Lawyers on 1800 157 934 as soon as possible. The earlier we can start building a strong case for you, the higher your chance of getting a good outcome.

Joseph Gilbert

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Going to Court – what to do, say and wear

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NSW Local Courts